Allston, Mass. -- The best women's soccer player in the world came to Boston Friday night and showed exactly why she's the best. Marta, the Brazilian star and four-time, reigning FIFA World Player of the Year, dazzled at Harvard Stadium and sunk the Boston Breakers with a magnificent brace of goals in a 2-1 win for FC Gold Pride.
With only one goal all season coming into this match, Marta had been in what was, by her standards, a scoring slump. Not anymore. The feisty forward's two first-half goals tripled her scoring total for the season and boosted her team into a comfortable first-place position in the Women's Professional Soccer table.
In front of a crowd of 5283, many of whom abandoned the home team to cheer for Marta, the Brazilian scored her goals 22 minutes apart. Her first came just 15 minutes into the match, when she took a ball from Tiffeny Milbrett, sliced down the right wing and slotted home into the far corner of the net, beating Boston goalkeeper Ashley Phillips.
After Boston struck back through a Kelly Smith goal in the 23rd minute, Marta netted the winner. In the 37th minute, Gold Pride midfielder Solveig Gulbrandsen drove through the center of the Breakers' defense and tapped a ball to her right, where Marta was waiting. Positioned just to the left-hand side of Phillips, Marta once again slotted across the face of goal and into the corner of the net.
Marta's second strike would be the final goal of the match, as the second half produced little action of interest. The Breakers, now winless since their first match of the season, didn't play badly but just couldn't contain the Brazilian star, Boston Coach Tony DiCicco said.
"It's hard to neutralize Marta; she's like the [Lionel] Messi of the women’s game," DiCicco said. "We said we’ve got to be careful of her sneaking in behind, and we needed to double team her at the flanks. Unfortunately she got in behind twice and scored both times. For most of the game, we did contain her. But she is the type of player that gets a couple of chances, and unfortunately she put them both away today."
Gold Pride Coach Albertin Montoya heaped praise upon his star forward: "Marta was very impressive," he said. "She had only scored one goal this season, but she’s been creating so many chances for us. She got unmarked behind their defense several times and could have scored a couple of more. She is a wonderful player to have on the team."
As for the Breakers, they are now winless in their last five games after a season-opening win at Washington. The loss to Gold Pride was their second consecutive defeat at home and their second loss in three games. Boston forward Kelly Smith said the team simply needs to score more goals.
"We are disappointed to lose a game at home," Smith said. "We’re creating chances; we’re just not putting the ball at the back of the net. And we have to do that to win games. We’re OK; we are not panicking, but we need to start winning games."
DiCicco agreed, noting that his team creates chances but isn't finishing them: "I am frustrated because we are not scoring, even though we are playing some good attacking soccer," he said. "We only scored one goal in three games. You are not going to get points with one goal in three games. So we need to do a better job."
Steven Apostolov and Lee Pender are co-authors of Boston Breakers Report.